Six months into using the Fuji Xt1, I thought I would update my initital review. Over the years I have used nearly every Nikon model from film through to digital, my last Nikon was the D3, a truly superb bit of engineering, and a very well thought out camera. After 4 years of ownership I was becoming tired of it, not only down to the weight of the beast and attached glass, but because I felt the camera was owning me and not the other way around. I felt my photography was being done by the camera, with very little input from me. I wanted to be inspired again, remove myself somewhat from the electronics. Hard to believe this camera appeared in the Uk late 2007.
So my journey of re discovering my photography came through the purchase of the Fuji x100, yes that bloody quirky camera !, that little camera delivered superb images, set me on the Fuji path. Given my photographic needs I followed up that purchase with the Fuji X pro 1, and started to aquire some lenses. The 55-200, and the 14mm, along with some legacy glass from Olympus zuiko. Still I felt for some professional assignments where speed was required the Fuji's were a little lacking. Though image quality had never been an issue. So when the Xt1 was announced I jumped for joy, no more carrying the D3 around for that moment when a little action occurred. I can now honestly shoot a portrait session or wedding day without worry.
Since owning the Xt1 I have had so much shooting pleasure from it, yes it has the electronics and all the gizmos, most of which I rarely use. I feel I am in control again. The pleasure of the analogue dials, the shooting film again experience. What Fuji have done for me is to give me my soul back.
One thing I do feel though is that the Xt1 is a much different shooting experience to the X pro 1, although the fuji quirkiness is still present, it feels more refined in it operation, and thats where I feel Fuji need to beware. By packing more and more into the body, in terms of buttons and bells and whistles, it may, and I say may lose the appeal of so many fans. As it stands the Fuji Xt1 is a fine small camera, that delivers great images, while still retaining that user experience. Fuji have established a superb collection of Cameras, and a selection of lenses which are sharp and contrasty, but the pressure to add stuff needs to be controlled. So for me the biggest changes that I have appreciated are file quality, af performance, shooting speed, build quality, the retro dials and overall appearance. Everything else thay could have left off, nice to have on occasion but for everyday use, think I've maybe used the swivel screen once or twice.
For me the camera has some weaknesses, the lack of a decent flash system, and I can only refer to the Nikon's system which is brilliant. The battery management indicator, and general battery strength though, are woeful. I know we can buy extra batteries, and i have several, but shooting all day requires these, but then it starts to negate the weight saving aspects. The flash system for me is not that much of a put off as I shoot available light for the most part, still a pro camera, deserves a pro system and to me Fuji need to deliver on this.
Many have commented on the image quality differences between the X pro and the Xt1, yes they are different, but to me and I shoot for print, I genuinly have not been able to see that much difference between the two, sure the Xt1 has some NR going on but you can turn that down, overall the image quality is pretty similar and still has that Fuji look to its files. AWB is very good, most lighting situations are handled very well. The big difference for me is when using larger lenses, whereas the X pro felt unbalanced and compromised, the Xt1 feels great. When I'm shooting weddings I rig the X pro 1 with the 35 1.4 and leave it on all day, the Xt1 carries the bigger lenses.
Quick focus aquisition even with the slow 55-200 is not an issue, as the above image of a red grouse i was stalking shows, the Xt1 is a capable camera able to deal with most situations when you understand it.
So to wrap up this review and I apologise if I've waffled anywhere. The little Fuji Xt1 is a grown up camera, not without its quirks and oddities, but they can be easily overcome. Brings speed and image quality over the earlier models, retains the same form factor and aesthetics unique to Fuji. The sensor is sublime, and at 16mp prints very large. Trust me I have gone 4 feet with images from the camera. I feel personally for me this camera along with the X pro1 is ideally suited for most of my needs. Its doubtful I will need to upgrade again for awhile unless it breaks.